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Maritime Labour Convention 2006: Yacht designers' responses

Maritime Labour Convention 2006: Yacht designers' responses

Dear Editor,

I thought the article was excellent, and well explains the issues involved. The reality is that men behind desks are failing to take account of reality on yachts – I have yet to see one of the recent superyachts where crew are not looked after with suitable and perfectly acceptable and pleasant accommodation – it is not realistic to draw conclusions regarding crew accommodation from a review of the merchant fleet or navy, and apply them without due consideration to yachts where everything is different, from the length of the average crossing and time at sea to the total accommodation package available to the crew.

Private yachts that do not provide a high standard of crew accommodation will not retain their crew, nor attract good crew, and that alone is a very powerful incentive to ensure that such standards do not drop. However, given the volume limitations in yachts when compared to ships, what is missing in terms of sheer volume is more than made up in luxury of appointments, and ingenuity in the provision of compact yet very efficient accommodation, storage, etc.

Further, it must be considered that on a typical yacht, the owner will only spend comparatively brief periods of time on board – at all other times, the crew has the run of the total yacht, and they can and do enjoy extensive periods of time on the main galleys, pantries and major deck spaces, which more than offsets the fact that the cabins themselves are comparatively small.

Ultimately, I applaud the intention to ensure that crew have acceptable conditions to live and work on board. Most, if not all, yachts do provide this. The new regulations are the answer to a question which nobody in the yachting industry has ever raised. It potentially could kill yachting as we know it, most certainly at critical sizes where the crew to guest accommodation equation cannot be made to work. Should that happen, there will be many unemployed crew members who will most certainly not have benefited from the proposed legislation.

Ken Freivokh

Ken Freivokh Designs

Dear Editor,

It would obviously be of great concern if the MLC rules end up being fully implemented. The impact would be huge for yachts of this size and there are no obvious magical design solutions to overcome the problem. In any situation, blanket regulations never really work because not everyone’s situation is the same. Having said that, it does sound like the yacht market was initially overlooked in the study and that there is now more specific consultation going on in this respect. One would hope that if these changes are implemented that there would be some form of dispensation awarded to the yachting sector in the realisation of how unworkable the rules would be from a design point of view.

As we all know, at the best of times crew accommodation is a challenge, trying to achieve the right balance between crew numbers and their accommodation needs while maintaining the comfort level of guests living on board. Looking at the general arrangement examples in your November issue, it’s clear that the prospect of owners/designers having to adhere to these new rules would be a huge compromise and one would imagine that in many cases would make building a boat in this size bracket cease to be such an attractive proposition.

Maybe the answer is smaller crew!

Jim Berryman

Reymond Langton Design

Dear Editor,

Regarding ‘MLC/ILO criteria for crew quarters’ we are in interesting times… The continuing development of rules applying to yachts is an understandable and desirable step, no one can argue otherwise. While crew accommodation should be comfortable and spacious, these new rules may have many ramifications that were not considered at the time of writing and are definitely more onerous on yachts in the 40m to 50m size. As a designer I will respect the rules when they come into effect and I will do my best to follow them, but I will also look for ways to provide accommodation for the crew that does not reduce the owner’s areas.

We must always remember why these incredible projects are undertaken – it is to provide the facilities for the owners and their families to enjoy hospitality on a grand scale and to travel the world in comfort. Those who work to earn their place as part of the crew, know they are in a privileged position and know that their accommodation will be on a different scale to the owners. As always, it is a question of balance and, as a designer, providing solutions to harmonise and satisfy all the many factors in the yacht’s layout, but I learnt a long time ago that ‘a happy crew makes a happy ship’.

Tim Heywood

Tim Heywood Designs

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